The ancient Greeks were vigorous critics of their own culture. Their literature is full of debate about punishment: who should inflict it on whom, for what offence, and in what form. Yet few questioned the traditional orthodoxy that it ought to be primarily retributive. The great exception was Plato. Building on certain insights of Socrates and Protagoras, he advocated a strictly reformative penology, cast in medical terms and designed to `cure' the
offender's mental state.This book traces the development of Greek ideas and controversies about punishement from Homer to Plato. It then demonstrates in detail how in his Laws Plato attempts to give concrete expression to his radical new penology by in effect rewriting the Athenian penal
code.The ancient problem of the purpose of punishment is still of relevance to contempary society. This expostion of Plato's instructive and important attempt to solve it is therefore written with the needs of non-specialists very much in mind. The complex material is lucidly set out, and key Greek terms are transliterated and explained.
'Professor Saunders isn't a bore. His book is long-range anthropology of the most scholarly kind.'
Nigel Walker, University of Cambridge, British Journal of Criminology, Vol. 33, No. 1, Winter 1993
'a very useful and clear account of the actual practice of Athenian law, how it developed. and the relationship of Plato's ideas to what was actually going on in his own day ... This book is, quite simply, essential reading.'
Greece & Rome, April 1993
'This latest book is his most substantial work thus far and incorporates the results of many of his earlier forth his main thesis clearly and defends it vigorously ... there is much of value in S.'s work ... His book will certainly be the starting point for future work on Plato's penology.'
Michael Gagarin, University of Texas, The Classical Review, Vol. XLIII, No. 1, 1993
'Saunders has done a splendid job of categorizing Plato's ideas about all types of penalties and then comparing them with what we know about penology of his time, especially at Athens. Saunder's interpretations will provide a fertile ground for future discussion.'
Donald F. Jackson, University of Iowa, Religious Studies Review, Volume 19, Number 2, April 1993
'Throughout Saunders exercises admirable patience in sorting out the often confusing or obscure passages in the Laws; many sections amount to detailed philological and historical commentary on extended passages from Plato's unfinished (and probably unrevised) work. I recommend this book warmly to students of Plato's political thought and of Greek law; despite its massive detail and painstaking analysis, Saunders manages to infect the reader with
his fascination for the subject.'
John Bussanich, University of New Mexico, Classical World